So you want to be a bartender, eh? Oh, it’s not that hard – or is it? Like many other of life’s pursuits, the job is what you make of it. Meaning: you make it difficult or you make it easy. The more you study (not necessarily books), the more knowledge you absorb, and mostly – the more experience you acquire, the better you will be at bartending and easier your job will become. Notice, I didn’t say “…the better you will be at slinging drinks.” If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you’ll know that there’s a shit-ton more to being a great bartender than just memorizing index cards with drink recipes that you gleaned from (God-forbid) Mr. Boston.
Things that make
guests customers look, sound, and be treated as… wait for it – stupid.
1. “Give me a Ketel and Vodka – on the rocks” Translation: I’m 27. I work at Staples Copy Center. I live in my parent’s basement, have recently graduated from The Chubb Institute of Technology, and would not be where I am today without municipal assistance and a refillable prescription of Clonazepam. PSA: think before you speak and before you order.
I’m an ass (my own ass shot for posterity). After a few multi-year bartending stints in a couple of key NYC venues, I flew the coop. I had been in one particular bar so long, it had become unfortunate home. My regulars became my drinking buddies and, cursedly, my Facebook “friends.” I had become so comfortable – in a poisonous environment – that I had already “jumped the shark” in my own head and subsequently, career path. I knew the time had come to become… The Gypsy Bartender. As a vagabond, I would wander from bar to bar, doing guest spots, seasonal gigs, and mostly – not getting into my previous groove with my much-adored co-conspirator.
I’m a bad, bad man… or at least I fancy myself as such in my mucho misaligned cranium. I’m married. From time to time, I’m told by some woman that lives in my house, and incessantly by her nagging friends, that I’m not available to other women. In my book, that simply jive very well with my desires – and especially not in my chosen profession – bartending. But shit, I am a good boy, right? I behave – or at least, I do my damned best to. But sometimes, life
alcohol gets in the way.
I went out after work for that “one drink” with the crew a couple of nights ago. We happened to be at The Crooked Knife on 14th St. That’s borderline Meatpacking District/Chelsea for you out-of-towners. After a bad-ass, long, hot, sticky, dirty, demanding evening on my feet, I’m all in for settling down at the local watering hole (once in a while) and kicking back before the journey home. Here’s how I get down: I double-fist it – mostly.
You’re looking at my (1) a pint of Magic Hat #9 and (2) a shot of Michters [with three cubes] – a decent rye with a mildly fruity nose, and a fairly smooth finish. Coincidentally, Michters is one of the oldest distilleries in the U.S. – dating back to before our independence.
I’m a seriously obsessive, compulsive freak. It’s not my fault… It’s my Mom’s. She’s an over-the-top, O.C.D. nightmare times ten and I, for better or worse, inherited a lot of those qualities. I rate myself right about in the average tier of the disease’s spectrum. Admittedly, getting freaky-deaky with organizational skills does come in handy when behind the bar – except when it doesn’t. Case in point: sharing a register with others.
Above, is a picture of my personal drawer at the end of a shift.
Pourers – the truth. The only bar that doesn’t need them is Uncle Wilson’s 70′s-ish, fake-wood paneled basement boudoir. What’s a pourer? Well, for uninitiated, it’s a device that fits 98 percent of standard glass [and plastic - yech...] spirit bottles, enabling a – supposedly – controlled, continuous flow of hooch. Why do you need pourers Mr. Bartender? Answer: speed and consistency. (1) Speed = money. Make drinks faster, make more money – unless you’re fond of picking boogers, endlessly flashing ass, or texting incessantly (2) it’s far easier to pour a consistently similar amount into a shaker or glass given the same drink order, repeatedly. That saves needless remade drinks, overpours, underpours and the like.